How to Say 'Love' in Mandarin Chinese

Romantic young couple kissing on beach, Coney Island, New York, USA
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Love is a central part of life, perhaps even the most important! Expressing love in a foreign language can be difficult and require a good sense of the language, but starting from the word for love itself is a good idea. 


The Chinese character for "love" or "to love" is 愛 in traditional Chinese, but it can also be written as 爱 in simplified Chinese. Traditional Chinese is more commonly used in Taiwan and Hong Kong, whereas simplified Chinese is used in mainland China.

The main difference between the two characters is that the simplified version does not have the component, 心. In Chinese, 心 (xīn) means "heart." Thus, a running joke among advocates of traditional Chinese is that there is no "love" in places that use simplified Chinese because the character is stripped of its heart. 

愛 / 爱 can be used as a noun or as a verb—to love someone or to love doing something. The character is roughly used in the same manner as the Chinese character 喜欢, which means "like" or "to like."


The pinyin for 愛 / 爱 is "ài." The character is pronounced in the 4th tone, and can also be referred to as ai4.

Sentence Examples Using Ài

Tā ài chàng gē.
He loves to sing.

Wǒ ài nǐ
I love you. 

Zhè shì yīgè àiqíng gùshì.
This is a love story.

Tāmen zài běijīng ài shàngle.
They fell in love in Beijing.

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Su, Qiu Gui. "How to Say 'Love' in Mandarin Chinese." ThoughtCo, Apr. 5, 2023, Su, Qiu Gui. (2023, April 5). How to Say 'Love' in Mandarin Chinese. Retrieved from Su, Qiu Gui. "How to Say 'Love' in Mandarin Chinese." ThoughtCo. (accessed June 9, 2023).